This early photograph shows thousands of workers participating in a Labor Day Parade in New York City’s Union Square in 1887, years before many labor rights became law.

Most schools, local government offices, and banks will not open Monday. Government offices include the City of Palestine, the Palestine Public Library, Anderson County Courthouse, Courthouse Annex, and the U.S. Post Office. 

Employees will have a day off from work — and a day to reflect on rights gained during the Labor Movement, which began more than 125 years ago.

Today’s workers can thank the Labor Movement for the eight-hour work day, lunch breaks, paid holidays and vacations, and weekends off from work. 

Latisha Calhoun is Career Advisor Lead/Supervisor for Area I of the East Texas Workforce Commission, which includes Rains, Van Zandt, Henderson, and Anderson counties. The offices close each year on Labor Day, and some of her 13 employees are planning to enjoy a longer weekend by taking an additional day off work.

“I enjoy having the day off, even though it’s usually more work for me because I usually try to catch up on housework when I’m off,” Calhoun said. 

Many others, however, will work Monday, as usual. Emergency responders, retail store and restaurant employees, healthcare and prison workers, sanitation workers and housekeepers, and other essential services do not close for Labor Day. 

Calhoun told the Herald-Press that many employers in the area do not offer time off on federal holidays. 

“A lot of our employers pay for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but those are the only two,” she said.

At the first Labor Day parade in 1882, roughly 10,000 workers swelled New York City’s streets to march for labor rights. The movement spread quickly across the U.S., and by 1896, President Grover Cleveland signed the Labor Day holiday, the first Monday each September, into law. 

The U.S. was not the first country to declare a national Labor Day holiday. A similar movement occurred in Canada, where the first parades in 1872 in Ottawa and Toronto were followed by Parliament’s recognition of the holiday in 1894. Many other countries honor workers on May 1, also called May Day.

Labor Day still holds meaning for today’s workers, who enjoy spending time with family, catching up on house or garden work, shopping, or hosting cookouts.

“We need that break every so often so we can unwind,” Calhoun said.

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